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A missense mutation in IFT74, encoding for an essential component for intraflagellar transport of Tubulin, causes asthenozoospermia and male infertility without clinical signs of Bardet-Biedl Syndrome
Abstract : Cilia and flagella are formed around an evolutionary conserved microtubule-based axoneme and are required for fluid and mucus clearance, tissue homeostasis, cell differentiation and movement. The formation and maintenance of cilia and flagella require bidirectional transit of proteins along the axonemal microtubules, a process called intraflagellar transport (IFT). In humans, IFT defects contribute to a large group of systemic diseases, called ciliopathies, which often display overlapping phenotypes. By performing exome sequencing of a cohort of 167 non-syndromic infertile men displaying multiple morphological abnormalities of the sperm flagellum (MMAF) we identified two unrelated patients carrying a homozygous missense variant adjacent to a splice donor consensus site of IFT74 (c.256G>A;p.Gly86Ser). IFT74 encodes for a core component of the IFT machinery that is essential for the anterograde transport of tubulin. We demonstrate that this missense variant affects IFT74 mRNA splicing and induces the production of at least two distinct mutant proteins with abnormal subcellular localization along the sperm flagellum. Importantly, while IFT74 deficiency was previously implicated in two cases of Bardet-Biedl Syndrome (BBS), a pleiotropic ciliopathy with variable expressivity, our data indicate that this missense mutation only results in primary male infertility due to MMAF, with no other clinical features. Taken together, our data indicate that the nature of the mutation adds a level of complexity to the clinical manifestations of ciliary dysfunction, thus contributing to the expanding phenotypical spectrum of ciliopathies.